Missy Elliott Gives Commencement Speech, Donates $20K to Norfolk State University

"You already won," the Grammy Award-winning hip-hop artist told graduates of the Virginia HBCU located a few miles from where she grew up.
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  • Missy "Misdemeanor" Elliott was the commencement speaker at Virginia's Norfolk State University.
  • She also donated $20,000 to the historically Black college and university.
  • Elliott is from Portsmouth, Virginia, about 5 miles south of Norfolk State's campus.

Grammy Award-winning artist Missy "Misdemeanor" Elliott lifted up Virginia's Norfolk State University with her voice and her money last weekend.

Elliott was the fall commencement speaker at Norfolk State, a historically Black college and university (HBCU) located just across the Elizabeth River from her hometown of Portsmouth, Virginia. She also donated $20,000 to go to "the area of greatest needs," a university spokesperson told The Virginian-Pilot.

"I am proud of y'all, and y'all should be proud of yourself," Elliott told the crowd during the Dec. 10 graduation ceremony.

Telling the graduates how proud she was of them, Elliott also said during the Dec. 10 ceremony that they should be proud of themselves.

"I want you to look at each other and say, 'You already won.' Let 'em know! Ain't no winning, you already done won. 'Cause y'all coulda been doing anything else the last few years, y'all coulda been wildin' out, but y'all decided to finish the course. And that's major."

Elliott received an honorary doctorate in humane letters for "outstanding professional achievements and extraordinary contributions to public service." It's her second honorary doctorate — she was awarded an honorary doctorate in May 2019 by the Berklee College of Music.

Norfolk State also awarded Elliott its highest honor, the Presidential Commencement Medallion.

"I'm looking around and I see innovators, visionaries, leaders created in here," Elliott told Norfolk State's graduating class. "I want to see these same faces years from now saying … 'I became famous, I became president, I became a lawyer.' All of those things."